“We grew up in a society that told us we were naïve,” said Mico Lucide, a senior Political Science major with a concentration in Pre-Law.
A way to conquer inexperience is to become engaged. “If I don’t, who will,” is the tagline of the Coalition for Civic Engagement (CCE), a club that Lucide coordinates and co-founded with Michael Benjamin Peoples. The tagline “is something I try to live by,” added the South Jersey native who currently resides in Galloway.
College students make up a very large community with potential to make a difference explained Lucide, who is disappointed when he sees a lack of civic engagement among his peers.
The Coalition for Civic Engagement organized a voter registration drive this fall by stationing tables campus-wide where students could register to vote on the spot. Campus hallways are crowded with distractions. Lucide’s solution: a paper flip-board and a thought-provoking question. “We pulled the students in with things they felt a need to care about,” he explained.
For Lucide, voter registration is not simply the act of signing the paperwork; it is about learning, educating others, and debating important issues. Lucide’s questions got students thinking about topics such as the government shutdown and the minimum wage. Engagement “starts with notifying students of things happening in politics that affect them,” he said.
An estimated 200 students—many of whom were freshmen—registered to vote through the drive. That number was about the same as the previous year, which was a presidential election year. “That was impressive considering this year’s circumstances [not a major election year],” he said.
The coalition is Lucide’s baby. He and Peoples wrote the organization’s constitution following a group-driven model. “I’m very excited about the opportunity that exists for the Coalition for Civic Engagement,” he said.
As a chairperson on the gender inclusive housing initiative, Lucide has seen firsthand that change through engagement is possible. The initiative resulted in the designation of one building in each of Stockton’s apartment-style housing complexes as a gender inclusive option. Prior to the work of the initiative, there was no such housing arrangement available and with transgender students unable to identify on official forms, they could be left with an uncomfortable housing assignment.
At the Northeast LGBT Conference, a passage from a speaker stuck with Lucide: “the last place I should feel the need to have a discussion about acceptance is where I go to bed at night.”
When you put yourself in the shoes of a transgender student, it could be intimidating and “awkward to make that initial point of contact with housing,” Lucide explained. There is still more work to be done because freshman students do not have a gender inclusive housing option, but the initial strides have built a strong foundation for future change.
Lucide has been an active member of the Stockton community before he was even a student here. As a high school senior, he was treasurer of Egg Harbor Township High School’s gay straight alliance, and in an attempt to ensure the club’s success, he reached out to Stockton’s Pride Alliance to establish a partner relationship.
He was invited by Cameron Mazzeo, the Pride Alliance president at that time, to attend meetings at Stockton, and in the summer going into his freshman year of college, he was asked to be the Pride Alliance president. “I was very nervous, but I said yes.”
“I spent my first year of college in the Student Development Office figuring out how to run a club,” he smiled. The seven-strong Pride Alliance grew more than six-fold to a membership of 44 at the time he stepped down.
Most recently, Lucide was named to the American Democracy Project National Student Advisory Council’s executive board. “The primary focus is on student activism and making students aware of the power they have as students and citizens in their college,” he explained. He is one of six executive board members nationwide.
Lucide is also a student member of Stockton’s Political Engagement Project, a former student senator and served as an intern with State Senator Jim Whelan in summer 2012.
“From encouraging his peers to vote to advocating for gender-inclusive housing to co-founding the Coalition for Civic Engagement, Mico has enriched the Stockton community enormously. He has made invaluable contributions to our Political Engagement Project, including participating with faculty and staff at the annual national meeting of the American Democracy Project, where he impressed everyone with his passion and energy. Mico is a fabulous role model for active and engaged citizenship,” said Dr. Linda Wharton, associate professor of Political Science and faculty coordinator of the Political Engagement Project.
Lucide’s proudest accomplishment—“being there for my mom”—is also his most trying. The past few years have thrown challenges at him that many young people never face until later in life. As power of attorney, Lucide cares for his mother, who suffered from a massive stroke a year and a half ago without health insurance. He has managed her healthcare through Medicaid, and has had to sacrifice the apartment they were living in at the time to afford the proper care for his mother at an assisted living facility.
“I am proud to be able to get through all of those things and still have the passion to make a change, rather than accepting defeat,” he said.
“My goals are lofty,” he added. His sights are set at U.S. senator with a backup plan of New Jersey governor.
In working with government offices on healthcare issues, he has come across difficulties that have given him “all the more reason to want to become an elected official.”
He purposely says elected official. “I am not a politician. I do not act for one party or private organization,” he explained.
“I want to do things that will benefit the state and the country as a whole.”